Der Ruritanische Widerstand - The Ruritanian Resistance

Subverting Anthony Hope's Ruritania...

"Heaven doesn't always make the right men kings!"

Friedrich (Fritz) von Tarlenheim, c. 1876 

by Doc M
Cultural Attaché to the Ruritanian Opposition in Exile

BarricadeAs an old-time pinko-subversive, Yours Truly was always rather sceptical of the wisdom and morality, in The Prisoner of Zenda, of propping up a brattish absolute monarch in a repressive autocracy, while his younger half-brother, widely regarded as the champion of the common people, the only hope of Strelsauer Altstadt's slum-dwellers, was depicted as a villain...!!! 19C Ruritania was not a country you'd really want to visit, let alone live in: the capital's police-chief reported to the King daily with lists of people under surveillance; the Chancellor was responsible to the King directly and could be dismissed by him at will. It was even more autocratic than Bismarck's Germany or the Habsburg Dual Monarchy of the time. (Internal dating evidence in the texts suggests a setting in the mid-1870s: Fritz von Tarlenheim's youngest son was 10 in the framing scenes around Rupert of Hentzau, written in 1895 and published in 1898.) Seeing how Rudolf V turned out after 3 years in Rupert of Hentzau (im-maturing from spoilt, selfish playboy to, erm, spoilt, selfish paranoiac) only reinforces the reader's lingering suspicion that the Duke could not have been much worse... As our good friend Nikki has written on the subject:

Michael was definitely an intriguing character. I would have liked to see more of him, even in the book. He seemed to have more of a clue than most of the morons around him. If I had to pick between him and Rudolf, it would not have been a difficult decision.

Well said, that woman!

So the Ruritanian Resistance was founded for anyone who fancies being a political subversive in a fictional bit of Mitteleuropa which is for ever late 19C. (After all, it's easier to be optimistic in a fictional universe than in the real world...) There are now several of us, on at least 2 continents, and we even have the T-shirts to prove it!

Shirt Logo
(the other uses the font displayed in the page title)

As first-person narratives, the original novels are open to interrogation. There is a good deal of textual evidence to support querying their political morality (as a Liberal and ironist, perhaps some of Hope's ambiguity was intended?).

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The first cut won't hurt at all,
The second only makes you wonder...
- Propaganda, Duel